Sunday, October 16, 2016

Meisou-Ou Border

Orphan has done many forgotten 80s and 90s OVAs. Some have been stunningly good, like Oz, and some have been stunningly bad, like Bavi Stock II. But none have led to as much head-scratching as Meisou-Ou Border, a 1991 OVA from Artland. One of the QCs remarked after watching it, "Well, that was random." Nonetheless, it's quite an interesting show.

Meisou-Ou Border is the only anime to come from a 14 volume seinen manga (completely untranslated) by Marley Carib and Tanaka Akio. It tells the story of two drifters, Kubota and Hachitsuka, who return from the Middle East and choose to live on the "border" of conventional society in Tokyo. The anime relates one specific episode from the start of the manga. Kubota and Hachitsuka are lured down to Osaka by an unscrupulous documentary producer, who places them as "innocent bystanders" in the middle of a yakuza gang war. The two manage to hold their own, much to the producer's dismay, and then they drift back to Tokyo. The episode closes with a completely unrelated encounter between Hachitsuka and his former mentor, Jinno, now a homeless man down on his luck. And that's it. The tone is mostly comic - even the yakuza violence isn't very scary or bloody - but the ending is elegiac and very sad.

Kubota was voiced by Horiuchi Kenyuu, a veteran voice actor who is active today, often playing authoritative figures like Colonel Yuuki in this year's Joker Game. Hachitsuki was voiced by Yara Yuusaka, who also had a prolific career (for example, he played Kai in Tomoe ga Yuku!) but is now retired. The director, Ishiguro Noboru, was an industry veteran who directed several episodes of Animated Classics of Japanese Literature; he also worked on Mushishi (another Artland property) before his death in 2012.

Iri found the raw - a VHS rip, apparently - became intrigued by the show, and translated it. ninjacloud timed, I edited and typeset, and Calyrica and Nemesis did QC. The raw is marred by awful frame blending, in a pattern of three good frames followed by two bad frames. There's also a noticeable dropout just past the 4 minute mark. As a result, it's impossible to make moving signs look good, and they've all been set "Yawara style," i.e., as notes at the top of the screen. If a better raw surfaces, we'll do a second version.

My main feeling after watching Meisou-Ou Border is that I wanted to know more, but just like with Sanctuary, this one episode is the only animation we'll get from a much larger manga. At least with Sanctuary, the manga is completely translated into English. For Meisou-Ou Border, the OVA is the only tantalizing fragment available to an English-speaking audience. Enjoy.


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